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Biden vs Trump: What it means to India?

Venkata Kondubhatla

With the US presidential elections around the corner, many question which candidate is likely to be better for India. The only way to figure out is to see how Trump and Biden have dealt with India in the past.

The friendship between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has worked perfectly well for both in terms of appealing to the Indian diaspora in the US.  

But, the Trump presidency has done little to India. Trump in June 2019 had terminated India’s preferential trade status under GSP programme. Until then, India had been the largest beneficiary of the programme with $ 5.1 billion in exports to the US with duty-free status.

However, on the positive side, Trump has mounted an offensive against China and supported India during the skirmishes between the Indian and Chinese troops at the line of control during the past few months. The US support helps India in regional politics in Asia.

When Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden visited India as the US vice president in 2013, he described India-US relationship as a defining partnership in the century ahead.

As the chair of the foreign relations committee, Biden took the leadership in taking forward the negotiations in the Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement. He even opposed members of his own party such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the run-up to the agreement in the US Senate.

In the past, Biden also wrote a letter to George Bush asking him to remove economic sanctions on India.

“We stand with India and the Biden administration will confront the threats faced by India in its own region and along its border,” Biden said during India’s Independence Day.

India can take an opportunity to challenge Chinese authoritarianism practices in Tibet and Hong Kong its region with the support from US regardless of whoever wins the elections.

Trump did not make comments in public on the controversial issue of Kashmir. In contrast, Biden has been critical India’s Kashmir policy and on NRC in Assam. In his campaign agenda, he stated, “In Kashmir, the Indian government should take all necessary steps to restore rights for all the people of Kashmir.  Restrictions on dissent, such as preventing peaceful protests or shutting or slowing down the Internet, weaken democracy. Joe Biden has been disappointed by the measures that the government of India has taken with the implementation and aftermath of the National Register of Citizens in Assam and the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act into law. These measures are inconsistent with the country’s long tradition of secularism and with sustaining a multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracy.”

US Vice President nominee Kamala Harris, whose mother is from Indian origin, can be helpful in enhancing India-US ties in the Biden administration. Biden can be more accommodating on US immigration issue and that can be a relief to many Indian-Americans who want to obtain Green Cards and become US citizens.

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